On Australia Day this year I made a crass joke on the Twitters about how brown boat people under the age of 18 get locked up in detention while white boat people under the age of 18 get Young Australian of The Year. Most people got that I was being facetious and tongue-in-cheek, but there was some feedback that I was being racist.
(There was also a suggestion that I was a Tamil Terrorist working for the Socialist Alliance via a hologram, or something, but I assume that guy was kidding too.)
If I caused any offence, I apologise.
Aside from my misgivings about whether Jess Watson was the most deserving recipient of the YAOTY* award, it was probably a bit harsh of me to use the brown/white dichotomy so flippantly.
In a country that draws its true wealth from its people, those who, as set out in the 2nd verse of our national anthem, have come across the seas and are of all the colours of the rainbow, it is important that we don’t create false divisions and invent tribes.
Obviously, I make lots of jokes about being brown, and I am very proud of my heritage (except when folks in the motherland are committing war-crimes, murdering journalists and establishing dictatorial monarchies, but that’s another story), but I am & always will be far more “Australian” than I ever was “Lankan”.
Despite the fact that I still remember quite clearly a day in Year 1 when a group of girls wouldn’t let me play with them because I had black hair (Yeah. Ouch.), my best friends since forever have been a pack of Skittles. (The men in my life have all been WHITE-white, though. I am totes sexually racist.)
And one of my mentors actually helped frame the multicultural policies of the 1980s mentioned by Chris Uhlmann that convinced my parents that this would be a wonderful country in which to raise their children.
So in the heart-breaking week when an orphan refugee was nearly forced back into detention a couple of days after his dad’s funeral (thankfully he’ll be with his family soon) and when we heard that the Opposition’s Immigration Dicktwat Spokesperson might have maybe suggested we should put religious considerations on our immigration criteria (allegedly), it was good to hear that the ALP has released a new ‘multiculturalism’ policy that aimed at ‘maintaining a socially cohesive and harmonious society’.
I look forward to seeking the initiatives that will be rolled out as part of the process. I hope they are genuine attempts to address the problems we have been seeing, but equally, I hope they are no patronisingly didactic ads or fridge magnets.
The thing is, right—as much as I hope and wish that this works, I have to admit that I’m not holding my breath.
But let’s just cross all our fingers and toes.
* Wait. Did they give it to her because the acronym for the award looks kinda like “YACHT” if you squint? In that case, it totes makes sense now!